The normal human attention span is………..…Didn’t my iPhone just ring?
Well, yeah! If you have ever found it hard to finish the task at hand without touching your phone or browsing through your social media accounts on the laptop, you are not alone. According to scientists, today’s digital era has left us humans with extremely short attention spans, so much so that we have lost it out to a goldfish. Yes, a goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds, whereas humans lose their capabilities to focus in eight seconds.
What Does The Research Say?
Analysts in Canada reviewed 2,000 members and studied the brain movements of 112 others utilizing electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that about the time mobile revolution began, around the year 2000, the normal capacity of a human to focus dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. The report also stated the chief reason for this being the multiple streams of media which were distracting and making it difficult for the multi-screeners to filter out unimportant stimuli.
However, there was a bright side that could be seen in the report which also suggested that even though the average human attention span had dropped, our ability to multitask had profoundly gotten enhanced in the mobile age. The survey additionally affirmed generational differences for mobile use. For example, when people between the ages of 18 and 24 were asked if they picked up their phones when there was nothing else that commanded their attention, 77% replied with a ‘Yes’ as compared to 10% of people older than 65.
Staying Focused For Long Could Be Your Superpower
A 2014 study by the British unit of advertising buyer OMD discovered that an average human shifted their attention between their tablet, smartphone, and laptop 21 times in 60 minutes. This proposed that our capabilities to fixate on a given task was getting affected because of the growing presence of these gadgets. A weaker attention span seems like the obvious side effect of the brain that has to make this switch between multiple gadgets and continue to adapt and change. Tweets, floods of emails, news or current affairs, there are multiple sources that are commanding our attention all at the same time. While we may have improved our ability to multitask, our attention spans are clearly reduced to intermittent bursts that don’t last too long.
Another study by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information and the National Library of Medicine revealed that 79% of the participants of the study regularly used “dual screen”. This meant that while using their devices they were also watching TV. The more the distractions for the brain, the lesser it can commit to the memory.
Here’s What You Can Do
It is never too late to begin. Here is what we all can do to improve our attention span amid the ongoing interruptions, whatever they may be.
- Step Away From Your Phone: That’s right! All the emails and other social media notifications can wait. When you have taken a work in your hand, solely focus on it and give your devices a break. Not only will you get the work done faster without any interruptions, but it will be more accurate. According to researchers, a meeting is much more successful and engaging when the members are not allowed to carry their phones or any kind of gadgets inside the meeting hall so their full attention can be on the discussion.
- Learn the Art of Listening: Have you ever given it a thought how much time do you spend speaking and how much of it is spent on listening (or really pretending to listen)? There are a lot of us who are already thinking of what next to say in a conversation while the other person is speaking. It’s like we are physically present, but mentally we are miles away. Work on this habit and try to focus and derive meaning from all that someone has to share with you. This would go on to help achieve a better focus and attention in the long-term.
- Be In The Present: Don’t let distractions pull you away from what is really important. Most of what may seem important or urgent never really is that important to demand your instant attention, so much so that you have to leave the really important work you were actually doing. Prioritize better and keep a schedule so you can avoid any unnecessary interferences.
Now you can congratulate yourself for making it through this article without opening another Facebook tab at the side or checking your phone for any emails. If you did any of that, maybe it is time to put things into perspective and analyze your actions. Let’s not forget, phones were made to assist us, not turn us into slaves.